Monday, 26 March 2012

Pragmatic Stylistics

I have been reading a fascinating book called Pragmatic Stylistics by Elizabeth Black. It's a wonderful book, though not one for school students unless they can cope with sentences like “Such narrators may be given to generalisations (gnomic utterances) and be judgemental (using deontic and boulomaic modality).”

But I mustn't quote selectively. The book is clearly written and, importantly, contains lots of examples from actual novels. In fact, it is the use of these real literary examples which sets the book apart from the field.

The chapters on such topics as Narrative Voices, Direct and Indirect Discourse, Tropes and Parody, Symbolism and Psychonarration are all grounded in relevant literary examples and, strikingly, many of the books Elizabeth Black uses were written by Catholic authors. She quotes extensively from the works of Muriel Spark, Alice Thomas Ellis, Ernest Hemingway, and David Lodge, for example.

Her linguistic approach to these literary texts is great for anyone teaching A Level English Language and Literature but it's also extremely useful for anyone teaching Literature as well.

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